Jenn Charlton of Brantford, Ontario, will serve as the Junior division showmanship judge at the 2023 World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin. Charlton farms with her father, Murray, at Charbend Farm where they milk 55 head of Holsteins. As a level 2 judge, she has judged breed shows, numerous 4-H shows and six Breeders Cups. In 2022, she stepped into the ring for showmanship judging at the Autumn Opportunity Show, placing a very competitive competition.
What is your background in showing cattle?
CHARLTON: I started at a young age, and my mother encouraged us to do our own work and to put time in with our heifers. This included fitting as well as leading. Being from Brant County, I had numerous people to learn from, including the Sayles and Eby families. I earned trips to the Classic every year that I was eligible to and made the finals of showmanship many of those years. In 2014, I competed at the World Dairy Expo in showmanship and placed second in the Senior division.
As a level 2 judge for Holstein Canada, what are your judging experience highlights?
CHARLTON: I competed all through 4-H on our county judging team, and in 2014 I won the Intercounty 4-H judging competition and competed with the Ontario team at World Dairy Expo. I was then selected to compete at the Young Breeders School in Belgium in 2015 as a member of the Canadian team. I was a member of the University of Guelph team as well, competing in competitions in Ontario and Quebec.
One area that I really enjoy judging are Breeders Cup. It is nice to see the cattle in their own environment, talk with breeders about their philosophy of how to make a better cow and share our passion for the day.
What was your reaction when you got the call to judge at World Dairy Expo?
CHARLTON: I was in the skid steer when I got the call from the staff at World Dairy Expo, and I missed it by a ring. I have never been more excited and almost nervous shaky to talk to someone on the phone to make sure that the voicemail was real.
The first person I told was someone that has been an incredible mentor and supporter of my judging career and I continue to learn from her each time she judges – Stephanie Murphy. The second is a breeder that has taught me so much about cows – Julie Eby. The third was one of my very best friends and supporters, and one of the best to work with and discuss cattle – Kenny McRae.
What are three key things that you'll be looking for in the Junior showmanship ring?
CHARLTON: One of the more important things for me is that the showman should be smooth, the leadsman and calf should work together in sync as a team. That allows the leadsman to keep the calf as the focus for the judge in a class. Secondly, the leadsman should set their calf up quickly and efficiently, correcting faults but not continuing to fidget or adjust the animal once she is set up nicely. I would remind competitors that the class is not over until you are leaving and that how they set up their animal in line is just as important as the job they do on the outside of the ring.
What are you most looking forward to about this exciting opportunity?
CHARLTON: I'm most looking forward to working with the kids and having each one of them walk away from the experience with a new tool to use or something to improve their performance when they step in the ring. In the Junior ring, I really appreciate how much room there is for growth and enforcing good habits for the future.